Johannesburg

Things to do in Johannesburg

If you're looking for things to do in Johannesburg, there are plenty of options from shopping to museum hopping to visiting nearby historical sites. Its vibrant and dynamic cultures make it a destination with countless activities.

Art and history lovers may begin by doing an art walk or visiting the Apartheid Museum, the Mandela House and the Johannesburg Art Gallery. Johannesburg Art Gallery rotates its collection of 17th and 18th-century European landscape paintings; works by South African painters; and traditional African objects and retrospectives by black artists. The Market Theater with a bar, an art gallery, three theaters and a restaurant is also a good place to explore. For more history, consider a visit to the Constitutional Hill to explore the Old Fort Prison and learn about the life of Nelson Mandela.

Consider a stop at Mary Fitzgerald Square or a stroll in Melrose Arch to spending an afternoon shopping, dining at one of its restaurants or just spending the night exploring the bars. If you're wondering what to do in Johannesburg with kids, the Cradle of Humankind is just a few miles north of the city. Check out the museum and learn about the earliest human remains discovered there. Visit the Johannesburg Zoo or the Lion Park nature reserve, near Lanseria (you can pet lion cubs!). Also check out the De Wildt Cheetah Centre, near Hartbeespoort, which runs a breeding program for cheetah, wild dog and other endangered species. Stop by the craft markets and haggle for some cool souvenirs at Hartbeesport Dam.

Alongside the Toblerone and Belgian Cote d’Or treats at this duty-free emporium, you’ll find the justifiably famous Chocolats Marionettes—handmade in Knysna along South Africa’s Garden Route.

For handcrafted African-motif housewares and curios with contemporary style, head to the airport outpost of this upmarket South African chain.

The Barnes & Noble of South Africa carries international fashion magazines, novels, story collections, cookbooks, and more.

The gallery, known for contemporary South African art, is surrounded by 400 thirty-foot-tall variegated aluminum "fins" that reference a protective Zulu kraal, or livestock enclosure.

The glittering necklaces, earrings, rings, and bracelets displayed at this high-end jewelry shop are all designed and made in South Africa.

Snag a table in the tree-shaded central courtyard for the "Canteen breakfast," with eggs, lamb sausage, mushrooms, and tomatoes.

You’ll likely hear this store before you see it. Celebrating the African continent’s vibrant voices, the CDs here—in heavy rotation as well as for sale—include Freshly Ground, Johnny Clegg, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and Xhosa pop singer Simphiwe Dana.

The museum, south of the city center, is an invaluable primer on apartheid-era race divisions, as well as the 19th-century gold rush that brought prospectors from around the world.

This gallery and shop showcases artworks and indigenous crafts from all over the African continent. Carved wooden masks, figurines, and abstract sculptures; elegant beadwork and painted clothes; and handwoven and printed textiles are just some of the treasures worth browsing here.

The complex, in Milpark, has the area’s best shopping, thanks to its many boutiques that showcase creative young talent.

A full range of spa services—from express mani-pedis, facials, and waxing to full-body table massages—is offered at this sanctuary. Fight off jet lag with a deep-breathing session at the on-site oxygen bar, where the blasts of pure O2 are infused with aromatherapy essences.

The century-old Kitchener's Carvery Bar, in Braamfontein, once hosted the titular commander of Britain’s Boer War force; with a dance floor, disco ball and a healthy supply of the local Castle Lager, it’s now a favorite with the design crowd—and the best place for a toast in this vibrant city.